Emotional Development for Building Healthy Relationships

When a child is crying, it is safe to assume that they are sad and when they have a big smile on their face it is more than likely that they are happy. These are some ways that children show their emotions. To have healthy emotional development it is important to feel our emotions, but it is also necessary to verbalize and manage them. Children at a younger age may not know how to verbalize their feelings let alone control them. Here are some tips and tricks to create healthy relationships and build emotional development.

Know what feelings there are besides happiness an sadness. Let children understand different emotions such as anger, feeling anxious, surprise, fear, love, confusion, and many more. Processing that multiple emotions can be felt at the same time will also help with coping strategies. If a child is unaware of how they feel this will further cause tantrums and inappropriate negative behaviors. It is important for the child to identify their feelings to refrain from outbursts and anxiety.

Verbalize those feelings. Being able to express and simply state “I am upset” goes a long way toward emotional development. Communicating feelings out loud lets the other person know what is going on. People cannot read minds and assume what is going on in someone’s head. While some actions may outwardly show how a person feels, the best way is to verbally express them. If a child comes up to you and states that they are sad, then the adult is able to work with them to see what they need to resolve the matter or feel better. If a child keeps that sad feeling to themselves, it can create worse feelings and delay the healing process.

Manage feelings. Once feelings are identified and verbalized, it takes time, practice, and patience to control those feelings. It is best to learn how to manage emotions at early developmental stages. Once this is mastered people will know how to stay in control as they get older and in different environments. They will be able to assess how to react in social settings, school, work environments, with family, and other communities.

How to help your child’s emotional development at home, through play:

First, practice breathing exercises at home and model this behavior in the middle of a game or activity. Children will most likely apply skills in their own life when they see an adult practicing as well.

Second, spend time together drawing or doing an art craft together. This lets children express their emotions in a creative way. Drawing is also a relaxing exercise. Try watercolors and paints as well.

Lastly, the best influence is seeing parents/guardians modeling behaviors. As the adult in the room, verbalize your feelings and practice ways to manage them in front of the child. They will try their best to follow the same steps. Playing games together as a family can do wonders for emotional development. Feeling multiple emotions in a game, whether that is excitement from winning or feeling upset and wanting to give up if a game is not going their way, are great indicators of emotional development. Children feel multiple emotions in games and the healthiest way to work around those feelings are to verbalize them to the players and remember strategies to remain calm.

Here is a list of games to play with your child to help build emotional development:

  • Emotional Rollercoaster Board Game
  • Uno
  • Connect 4
  • Tic Tac Toe
  • Candy Land (play with a twist, assign each color a feeling and discuss a time you felt that way when landing on a specific color).
  • Social Skills Board Game
  • Jenga (Color the side of the blocks different colors and assign a feeling. Once each piece is pulled discuss that feeling).
  • Sequence
  • Strong Suit Card Game
  • Pictionary
  • Guess Who
  • Musical Chairs
  • Mad Dragon Card Game

Outdoor games and arts/crafts are also great for these emotional development skills.

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